Can You Learn Language Through Songs?
Language gives voice to cultures, and one of the ways that cultures use language is to express themselves in songs and poetry. Since these songs are a product of the culture, they can lead to a better cultural understanding. For the language learner, the natural question that arises is if it is possible to learn language through songs? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. We are going to take a look at some of the ways that you can do so, as well as why you would want to.
Why Learn Language From Songs?
There are so many approaches and tools for learning languages, why choose music? As we mentioned in the opening of the article, language and culture are intertwined. Music, by its very nature, is a cultural expression that uses words in the form of lyrics. We use music when teaching children to learn their mother tongue all the time. Think about how we sing the English alphabet, or nursery rhymes and school songs.
The reasons we use music for teaching children are the same reasons why you might choose to make it a part of your language learning journey. We are going to look at those reasons along with a few others:
- Complexity of language – Song lyrics are excellent for gaining an understanding of the complexities of a language. Song lyrics often use simple language used in complex ways, such as a use of figurative language. Figurative language in songs lets the singer/songwriter express their feelings in a more poetic and artistic manner. Songs with figurative language allow you to understand these nuances by presenting them in a form that is easier to understand due to the context, compared to simply encountering them in daily life.
Poems using figurative language are also useful for this purpose as well. Poetry can be a bit of a step up in complexity from many songs, and is a great natural next step for further exploring these nuances.
- Fun and engaging – Learning anything is always easier if the lessons are engaging. As a popular form of entertainment, few things are as engaging as music. If you are really enjoying the music, then you are going to be motivated to learn and understand the lyrics. This makes learning more fun and keeps you focused on wanting to progress more. Songs are also very easy to repeat, and carry repetition in the lyrics, which on its own will help you learn those phrases easier.
- Music sticks with you – Let’s face it, we have all had a song stuck in our head. There is even a term for it in the English language now, the “ear worm”. This is a benefit when it comes to using music to learn, since you are essentially having a lesson stuck in your head and repeating itself over and over.
- Understanding context – Music helps you to take the lessons you have learned from other learning tools or classes and put context to them. You can hear the words and phrases used in a more native form, giving you an understanding of how to use them better yourself.
- Take the lesson with you! – We now live in a world where music is able to be listened to wherever you are, at any time. This portability means that you can listen to the music you are using to learn anywhere you might be. In the car, on the bus, working, doing chores. This is also true of language apps like Encore!!!, so you can combine their usage.
How Do You Learn Language Through Songs?
Now that we have tackled the question of why you would want to learn a language using music, it is time to discuss how you do it. There are a lot of apps to use and tips for maximizing the benefit of this learning technique, but we are going to look at a few of our favorites.
Having a great language learning app is important. Encore!!! offers more than just the typical learning tools. With the My Entry tool in the Encore!!! app, you can create your own content.
This means you can use song lyrics and their translations to help you break down the song and learn it phrase by phrase. Encore!!! will play the audio in both languages and you can choose how many times they repeat and how long in between you need to repeat the phrase and translations back.
2. Choose your songs wisely!
Picking the songs you want to learn from is one of the most important parts of this process. You want to choose songs that you really enjoy and love listening to over and over. The more you enjoy the lesson, the more likely you are to stick with it, so pick songs that will keep you entertained and engaged. Make yourself a playlist that you can enjoy listening to while doing a variety of your daily tasks.
3. Find the right translation
Many songs will have translations done by native speakers and fans available on the internet. These translations will be more likely to be accurate than those generated by online translators such as Google Translate. Be sure to check by using the lessons and dictionaries available in your language learning app, such as the ones provided by Encore!!! This makes sure that you are learning the most accurate translation possible.
4. Make it fun!
The point of using songs to learn a language is to make it entertaining and fun. So, don’t just read the lyrics like you are studying a sentence, belt it out and sing it! If you aren’t comfortable letting loose like that, just sing it to yourself in a way that you enjoy. You should also set some fun goals for yourself, like being able to sing the song in both languages, or hear it without having to think about what it says and instead just understanding it. Another fun goal would be to sing the song at karaoke (some places even have private karaoke rooms so you could sing with just your friends, or even by yourself!).
It is absolutely possible to use songs as part of your language learning journey. In fact, it is absolutely encouraged as a way to help you interact with the culture that speaks the language you are learning. Using music to learn helps keep you entertained and engaged, which can only be considered a benefit when attempting to learn anything.
The tips we provided should help get you started. An app such as Encore!!! is an incredibly important tool to learn a language through songs. Encore!!! gives you the ability to break down the song line by line and memorize the lyric and its translation. You can enjoy your favorite songs performed in another language a whole lot more when you are able to understand the lyrics. The same goes for poetry, as you read and engage with the most beautiful pieces of a culture in their native form.